Thanks to a gutsy rally through the stretch, She’s a Julie picked a most appropriate day to secure the first grade 1 victory of her career May 3 in the $500,000 La Troienne Stakes Presented by Inside Access from Chase (G1) at Churchill Downs.
She’s a Julie is named after trainer Steve Asmussen’s wife. When the filly was named, Julie Asmussen and co-owner Carrol Castille were battling throat cancer. On a day at Churchill celebrating women who have survived breast and ovarian cancers, Asmussen was emotional after the victory.
“Carrol Castille, who I purchased her for as a yearling off of Godolphin, she had been through throat cancer. My wife, Julie, was going through throat cancer at the same time,” Asmussen said. “To be standing here after she wins a grade 1, it’s just a special moment.”
Julie Asmussen celebrated the victory away from the track, attending a final track meet with their middle son.
On the track, She’s a Julie’s stablemate Awe Emma secured the early lead through a quarter-mile in :24.01 and a half-mile in :47.92. In the turn, Little Red Feather Racing’s Secret Spice, who entered off a clear victory in the March 30 Beholder Mile Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park, seized the lead and carried that advantage into the stretch.
After staying close in fourth early, She’s a Julie shifted out to find room and launched her stretch run, grinding up the lead of Secret Spice. In midstretch, Secret Spice and jockey Geovanni Franco angled out to engage their closing rival, but She’s a Julie was not intimidated, and took the lead in deep stretch to score a half-length victory.
“I was concerned in the second turn. … It seemed Secret Spice got a jump on her and she had to wait for traffic a bit, and even late (I was concerned), but I thought she showed her heart to wear her out,” Asmussen said.
Winning rider Ricardo Santana Jr. was confident his filly could rally once in the clear.
“A hole opened really well, and when I asked her, she gave me a really nice run,” Santana said. “I put her behind horses, and she relaxed really well. When she picked up the bridle at the three-eighths, she started running.”
A 4-year-old daughter of Elusive Quality, She’s a Julie turned some heads with a 2 3/4-length victory in the Feb. 18 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park. Racing for a partnership that includes Castille’s Whispering Oaks Farm, Team Hanley (Jay Hanley), Tim and Anna Cambron, Bradley Thoroughbreds, and Sol Kumin’s Madaket Stables, She’s a Julie was good enough last year to win a pair of grade 3 stakes and finish second in the Alabama Stakes (G1), but Asmussen saw improvement this season.
“She came on last year and ran some solid races, but we felt like the Bayakoa was her best race to date. It was a very strong performance,” Asmussen said. “We felt she proved in the Bayakoa that she runs well fresh. I felt she got back on track here last year, actually, on the Oaks undercard in an allowance race, so I felt this would be the right spot for her.”
She’s a Julie won an optional-claiming allowance race on the Churchill track in June. Her Hall of Fame trainer believes the large filly took time to mature and reach her best.
“She’s a monster, physically,” Asmussen said. “It stands to reason that time helped her come together.”
She’s a Julie completed the 1 1/16-mile test in 1:43.58. She paid $12, $6, and $3.80. Secret Spice returned $6.20 and $3.60, and Blue Prize, favored at 2-1, rallied for third to pay $2.80 to show.
Castille went to $160,000 for She’s a Julie at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, where she was consigned by Blandford Stud, agent.
Bred in Kentucky by Godolphin, the filly is out of the winning Dubai Millennium mare Kydd Gloves, who has produced five winners from six starters.
By Fred Angst